New Bill Supports Improved Access to Federal Fisheries

Outdoors groups praise four congressmen sponsoring the proposed change to federal management practices.

fishing for red snapper
The “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017" would improve access to fishing federal waters.Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

Four congressmen introduced a new bill, the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017," to the United States Congress that would improve public access to federal waters and promote conservation.

Many recreational fishing and boating organizations have applauded the effort of Garret Graves (R-La.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.). The backing organizations include: the American Sportfishing Association, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, the Coastal Conservation Association, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, International Game Fish Association, The Billfish Foundation, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the Center for Sportfishing Policy.

The bill was introduced April 6, 2017, and is currently in committee. You can track the bill's status.

"For decades, the recreational fishing community has been subjected to antiquated federal policies not designed to manage recreational fishing," said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. "The time is now to update these policies so families can fully enjoy our nation’s remarkable marine resources and continue a proud American tradition on the water.”

The bill, also known as the Modern Fish Act, would allow alternative management practices for recreational fishing, re-examine fishing allocations, rebuild stocks, evaluate and establish anomalies where annual catch limits don't fit, and more. Many of the supporting organizations have been pushing for a change to federal management practices for a while.

For Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association, this bill would help get more Americans outdoors and "enjoying our wonderful natural treasures."

““The Modern Fish Act addresses the core issues within federal saltwater fisheries management that are limiting the public’s ability to enjoy saltwater recreational fishing," Nussman continuedm "and will help maximize the economic, social and conservation benefits that recreational fishing provides to the nation.”

Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association, called the idea an opportunity to "a pathway to better management of America's marine fisheries in the future."

“For decades in federal fisheries management, recreational fishing was always an afterthought,” explained Jim Donofrio executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. “The Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act introduced by Congressman Graves and his colleagues finally addresses the specific needs of the recreational fishing community; stands to bring parity to fisheries management and will get anglers back on the water.”